Reports indicate the hepatitis C virus has expanded rapidly over the last few years, and experts say it could very well be a result of the startling opioid epidemic.
Over 2,400 hep C infections were reported in 2015 alone, but researchers state the actual number of those infected with the virus could be as high as 34,000. According to statistics, the highest rates of viral infection have occurred among those in their 20s who reportedly use needles to inject illegal drugs into their bloodstream.
Currently, around 3.5 million U.S. citizens have some sort of hepatitis C infection. The virus, which damages the liver, carries with it a host of serious side effects including fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, and jaundice. In 2014, the deadly illness killed almost 20,000 people – a record that health care experts hope won’t ever be topped.